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Costco's "World's Greatest Multi-Use Ladder"

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For years, other inspectors have regaled me with stories of how great their Little Giant ladders are. I've seen them time and again in various catalogs, but the price - usually over $350 - always snaps me back to reality and I look at my 22-ft. extension ladder and 6-ft. step ladder and say to myself, "Maybe next year."

So, imagine my surprise one day when walking through the local Costco, hoping to find stuff that can be purchased in quantities less than a gross, when I spotted, far off in the distance, what looked like a Little Giant ladder with a big price placard above that read $139.95! I dropped the 80-lb bale of toilet paper rolls and sprinted the half mile to the other end of the store, ready to mud-wrestle anyone who tried to get to that ladder first. Then, as I got closer - Whoa! Flaps down, flare out, apply the brakes - "This thing isn't a Little Giant!" I think, "It says Costco on it!

Sure enough, it was indeed a Costco branded ladder. In fact, it was The Worlds Greatest Multi-Use Ladder System. I knew that, because that's what the box said. Examining the ladder more closely, I immediately noted that it was made in the Republic of Korea, didn't have the snazzy orange knobs or pulls like the Little Giant Ladder and each hinge segment was made from stamped sheet steel instead of heavy metal plates like the Little Giant. Still, $139. Hmmm..........

I went back, retrieved my bale of toilet paper and resumed my quest, saying to myself, "Maybe next year." However, this time it wasn't so easy. $139.95, $139.95 kept running through my head. Finally I thought, "Oh, what the heck," returned to the stack of boxes and dropped one in the oversized Costco cart, about 3 yards away from the bale of toilet paper and headed for the checkout.

The next morning, I broke it out of the box and used it for the first time. "Awful heavy, " I thought. Then I set it up, used it and took it down outside, set it up, used it and broke it down inside. "Awful lot of finagling around to set up a ladder," I thought, and then I put it back in my truck. As the days went by, I used it more and more and found that, after one becomes accustomed to the additional weight and setting it up, it isn't very difficult to use at all. In fact, my life seemed to get a whole lot simpler.

This ladder, unlike my 6-ft. step ladder, can be extended up into an attic hatch, so I no longer have to make like a trapeze artist to get from the ladder up through a high-ceiling hatch. Outside, it is a lot more stable than my narrow-footed extension ladder and I can pull it up on a lower roof behind me, in order to go from the lower roof to an upper roof. Costco provides a video tape explaining how to use the ladder most effectively, but I really don't see the point. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to set up and use this ladder.

Is it as good as the Little Giant ladder? Beats me. I've never owned or used a Little Giant ladder,and have only looked at one up close once. I really have no frame of reference for comparison. However, it is fairly obvious that the biggest difference between this and the Little Giant is the way the hinge and release mechanism is made. These hinges don't look like they'll be able to sustain nearly the abuse that the solid metal plates used to make the Little Giant's hinges can take. Is this really that big a selling point? Not for me. I don't go up and down the ladder all day long like a house painter or window washer, so it won't get that much use anyway. To me, the price difference was worth trying one out.

Initially, my biggest concern was whether I could get up on roofs with it. After all, it is only 17-ft. long - 5-ft. shorter than my extension ladder. Would I even get to use it for going up on the exterior? Well, the answer is yes. Yesterday, I had a pretty high roof and had to take my extension ladder off the roof of my van for the first time in about 7 or 8 weeks. It was then that I realized that my old extension ladder is only going to be used occasionally now. As for my fiberglass stepladder? That hasn't been off the roof of the van in nearly 4 months. I'm not certain that I'll ever use it again.

I'm pretty happy with this little ladder. Sure, it isn't the Little Giant, but it can do virtually everything that the Little Giant can at less than half the price. Will it last as long as the Little Giant? Probably not. Only time will tell. Guess we'll see.

Now I'm wondering when Costco will come out with a longer version. I'd sure like to get a 24 or 26-ft version. Think they'd make me one special if I bought a pickup truck full of toilet paper?


Mike O'Handley, Editor

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I saw that Costco ladder at Sam's Club, I didn't much like the hinges although it looked to be a good value.

I bought two Gorilla brand ladders from Home Depot, I think the the 12 footer was 99.00 and the 21 footer was 159.00. These are pretty nice ladders; the hinges are billet aluminum, nice locking and sliding mechanisms and they came with an extra set of hinge plates so you can make two ladders out of each one and use them for scaffolding. They're very sturdy and I have no qualms about climbing them to the top rungs. Both are rated for 300Lbs. and after having climbed other ladders rated for that weight I think these are under rated. Their only flaw is that they're heavy.

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  • 1 month later...

I bought a Little Giant back in 1990. I am a new construction house painter. I used my LG nearly every day since I bought it. No doubt the best ladder around.

I see Werner has one now called MT, also high dollar. I bought the Costco ladder from Sams 2 weeks ago and parked the LG in the garage, the feet are worn out so it does not sit level. The only difference I see is the hinge. Not nearly as nice as the LG but too soon to tell how it will last.

The LG mechanism is much easier to release and I think may weigh less too. Regardless, I paid $400 for my LG back in 90 and $122 for the Costco version plus taller then my LG. Cant beat that! So far so good, I have 2 weeks everyday use on it.

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Since that review, which was done a couple of years ago and I used as filler here until I do another, I've had to change ladders, 'cuz last July some A-hole walked off with the one I did the review on. Wouldn't you know it - the one time I forgot to put the cable on it and it disappeared. (The danged extension ladder and step ladders weren't locked up for nearly 6 years and neither of those ever disappeared!)

Anyway, I replaced it with two Gorilla ladders like Chad purchased from Home Depot - one 13ft. and the other 21ft. These are lighter and heavier respectively, but that is to be expected given the fact that they are shorter and longer and rated for 300lbs as opposed to the 225lbs. of the other.

A few user comments:

You have to keep the hinge releases more lubricated than with the Cosco ladder or they are pretty difficult to release. The spring clips holding the release knobs on rust real easy and should have been stainless.

They don't extend and retract as easily as the Cosco because the diagonal bracing welded onto the bottom will catch the end of the upper sections.

The locking lugs need to be periodically cleaned and lubed or they get real hard to pull out.

Other than those few things I'm still pretty happy with them. I purchased the two together for about the cost of a 17ft. L.G. and they are still a whole lot easier to use than swapping between the 22ft. extension ladder I had and the step ladder all the time. Best of all, when I know I won't need to climb more than 13ft. I leave the longer one and my tailgate extension cage at home and close the tailgate of my Baha. When I bring them both, I can stack them one on top of the other and they're still below the top of the bed and I can park that little truck just about anywhere you can put a VW Beetle. (Especially good for those in city condo jobs with low entrances into parking garages.)



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I have the 17' Cosco from Costco, too. It's come up short on a few second floor roof accesses. I'm considering the Werner 21' at OSH, going for $199. It's only about 7" taller when compacted.

PS- Try using athletic socks on the ladder ends, when using it on the interior. Keeps the floors and walls clean.

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Be sure to use socks with warning labels to reduce liability. The last ladder I bought basically didnt have any metal showing due to all of the warning stickers.

"Socks on the ends to protect carpeting and finished walls. Hardwood floors, those I can clean easily, if necessary."

Shouldn't this be on the "New Sox" thread?

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  • 6 months later...

Just to let you guys know my input, ive been in the "Cable" buisness for 8+ years and have climbed,carried,dropped my share of ladders, both Aluminum and Fiberglass. I went out and found the "CostCo" 17' ladder for $99. I gotta tell you, I love this thing. Aside from reaching higher than 20', its perfectly effective, (I'm 6'2" and 285 lbs.) This thing supported my weight very easliy, was light enough to carry everywhere, and given my 6'2", my reach height was far above the 17' mark, and I was still not on the top two rungs!

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I also love mine...and since it was a gift from a well meaning brother in law, I love it even more!

I just played w/ a LG at Home Depot...who knew they were carrying them now....and it is much smoother and lighter than the Cosco ladder...but not at close to 200 bucks more.....darn I wish bro in law would have bought me a LG.!!

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